Punk trio The Sorely Trying Days may be moving up, but no matter how big they get, they will always orbit geocentrically over the map speck that is their hometown.
Twin brothers Alex and Adam Jones (drums and guitar, respectively) were the first members of the STDs. "We both learned guitar when we were 14," Alex said. "Our mom got us drums a little while after that and we started doing covers."
"We had three guitar tab books that we started working on," Adam said. "They were Black Sabbath, Metallica and Nirvana." But it was ultimately the brutality and angst of classic hardcore punk band Black Flag that clicked with the band most. "When I first heard Black Flag," Adam remembers, "my mind was blown."
While in high school, the brothers and some friends formed a heavy four-piece that went by the name Sludgepacker, which broke up by 2007. "When we were doing the whole Sludgepacker thing, we played around Central Indiana, mostly in Indy at the Underground or in Marion or Anderson," Alex recalls. "We eventually broke up because of the all-too-common 'musical differences.' Adam was writing heavier and sludgier shit for the band while the other guys were still really into 'studded-belt mohawk' stuff like Anti-Flag."
"It's A Hard Pill To Swallow, Growing Up Like This"
"There's a lot of negativity in Kokomo," Alex stated.
After a school trip to Germany during their senior year, where the brothers discovered the joys of alcohol, they returned home to find that their mother had moved to Florida.
"Suddenly, the house where we had grown up in was empty," Alex said, "so we just had a bunch of our friends move in and it became a party house."
"It was our escape from Kokomo within Kokomo," Adam said. "We didn't have to deal with the redneck assholes, just the friends and music that we had surrounded ourselves with. Music and friends make Kokomo tolerable. We wouldn't have anything to do if it weren't for playing music."
"The first thing you see when you read about Kokomo," Alex explained, "is the economic crisis and drug busts. We have our friends and we have our music. We just try to party in this shithole and see what happens."
But much like Reaganomics gave '80s hardcore something to scream about, the current recession has had a positive influence on the Sorely Trying Days.
"This Vast Black Expanse Of Misery"
"After Sludgepacker broke up, Adam and I started writing material that would become the Sorely Trying Days," Adam said. "We were just a two-piece then because our bassist friend John [Rhinehart] was in jail." The songs that the two brothers were writing were eventually released on a DIY demo, but have also been re-recorded for the upcoming full-length Survival Mode.
Tracks like "About The Good Times" and "Everybody's Bitch" betray their bleak lyrics with explosive drumming and riotous guitars. Towards the end of "About The Good Times," Adam shouts "I always wonder / Where the good times went / Are they coming back? / Am I gonna live to see them again?" Then, in the very last line, amidst a grinding cacophony, he quells his own line of questioning with a defiant bellowing of "I don't wanna live to see them again!"
"What Kokomo shits on us," Alex stated, "we reinterpret in a poetic way."
"Yeah," Adam added. "Frustration influences art."
Whether it's the crummy economic situation in Kokomo or the dramatic social situations that have arisen because of them, the STDs are inspired by Kokomo. On the heavy stoner jam, "It Always Takes A Lot," the bong-ripping, shout-along chorus of "It always takes a lot / sometimes more than you've got" suggests that the band has absolutely no problem with expressing their feelings.
After a few shows at the ES Jungle and The Halloween House as a two-piece, Rhinehart was released from jail and the band congealed into its current trio. The STDs' sound recalls the obvious influences of hardcore punk acts like Black Flag and Fugazi, but with subtle doses of crust and sludge, as well as a huge serving of stoner elements, à la Clutch.
"Even before John joined the band, we all knew that we wanted to make a real band that wrote about real shit," Alex explained. "Bands like Rites of Spring wrote about real shit that they dealt with in life, not bullshit like politics."